More and more, corporate managers are involved in technology buying decisions. But when asked a group of company managers at broadcast facilities if tech suppliers do a good job communicating to them we collected more “NO” answers than “YES” ones. Here are some of the more insightful comments:
Do broadcast tech suppliers communicate well to corporate management?
“No. Generally only magazines and newsletters are used to market to management. I guess it is assumed that management is already knowledgeable. That assumption is usually wrong. I believe there should be live demonstration marketing...not just talk.”
“The majority of suppliers I deal with do not really know what their product does, how it does it, and how it could effectively be deployed in my environment. Most salespeople I deal with know little more than the latest marketing blurb, and sometimes I even know that better than they do.”
“Suppliers could do a better job of describing how their products solve real world problems. It would also be helpful if they explained why they implement specific features with data that indicates they are solving a real problem.”
“Information needs to be put in layman's terms and succinctly explain why it benefits our company and our users.”
“No. The information regarding how useful the technology is in the long run is not provided.”
“No. All (suppliers) need to bring the end user POV into their discussions - system integrators often ignore this, resulting in equipment shortcomings or troublesome systems integration.”
No. It's best to see hands-on demonstrations of how this product works, and how it can work into our work flows. Giving us a pamphlet that you handed out at trade shows doesn't paint a picture of how I can benefit by switching to your company.
No. Need more bottom line ROI info to my case.
Generally yes. Companies do a good job of providing the right information, to the correct audience.
Yes, mainly through direct communication.
“Many do a very good job of identifying unique technical/operational issues, developing products that address those issues, and communicating in a clear and concise manner how their product can improve my operation.”
“Some provide technical support provides a variety of services for technical training. These have become indispensable for keeping line production staff abreast of new features and capabilities of their equipment.”
as to how tech suppliers could be more persuasive with corporate managers
“Suppliers should focus on cost, efficiency of the product and if there is an ROI that come with the product, examples of Best Practices to maximize ROI should be presented.”
“I only have so much time. When they can get me the specific info I need initially I'll delve into greater depth after that. If they load it all on me at the outset it isn't likely I'll wade into it. Hook me first with exactly how it will help me and the price point.”
“Signed affidavits from users; actual case histories not general statements using models who are good looking an obviously actors.”
“Oddly enough, I think sources like Facebook and Twitter are most effective these days at demonstrating to managers and business how strong of a tool they can be.”
“It really depends on the product. QoS (Quality of Service) is a big thing for video providers but there is not a lot of information from vendors with this capability on real world usage of their tools and capabilities.”
“Demonstrate ease of use and the benefit of their product to the Manager's immediate job function.”
“Costs in relation to performance.”
“Best way to get my attention with some new technology is with case studies using our networks and provide new insights based on your new technology.”
If there is room for improvement, corporate managers will let us know about it, all we need to do is ask!
We get it, stories sell. They help customers remember key points even as they are overwhelmed with facts. When winning new business in the time before first sales contact this is critical as there are no salespeople to reinforce points made. But if the stories are only about your company and products they can sound like a sales pitch and be quickly forgotten. Stories that sell best describe B2B problem solving situations similar to those being experienced by customers. In short, the stories are about your customers, not you or your company. Our friend Jill Konrath explains:
In 1997 Steve Jobs returned to a failing Apple Computer to turn it around. His first job was to come up with a marketing strategy to reposition Apple from away from the recent product failure of the Apple Newton, low cost competitors, and widely publicized falling sales. In this rare video Jobs explains how a proposed “Think Different” advertising campaign could start to return Apple to profitability and success. Jobs references the “Got Milk” campaign and Nike branding as he explains how branding works and how this campaign will turn the Apple brand around.
You have to love Jeff Jarvis. Whether you see him as a brilliant visionary of the tech future, or as an academic with a well-read blog, he defiantly makes you think. In this short video he gives a vision of the new world of marketing where Google has turned the world upside down.
Josh Gordon will give an hour long talk for the National Assocation of Publisher Representatives on his thoughts on selling media to marketers. (What is a Linkinar?)
Call in time is 1 PM EST. (218) 844-3377, access code 94612 followed by the # key.
Call into the session and then listen as Josh uses the links below to illustrate the presetation:
1. Should your emphasis be on earned, owned, or paid media?
2. Have publishers let competitors position their media?
3. New Study: Marketing is five times more persuasive to current customers than non-customers
4. Video: Shift of ad dollars to “earned,” “owned” media hurts marketers’ ability to reach new customers
5. The Most Important Number in B2B Marketing
6. Connect With B2B Buyers Before They're Too Far Down the Funnel
7. Angie, on why the Angie’s List marketing plan has a print magazine
8. Download study for free
9. Do your media reps ask about paid search?
Angie Hicks Bowman, co-founder of the home service rating company that carries her name, is one of the smartest marketers I have ever interviewed. She started her company as "Columbus Neighbors," personally going door to door in Columbus, Ohio to sign up members and collect ratings on local contractors. After her first year of door knocking, her company had 1,000 members. Today, that number is over 1.5 million paid members.
When my wife Lynn became an Angie’s List member, a monthly print magazine started showing up at our Brooklyn brownstone. I was intrigued. In a time when many marketers are scaling back print magazine marketing investment to favor digital media, here was a prominent digital content company publishing a print magazine. Retro marketing? Not on your life. In an interview with Angie I found her rationale for using print magazines so rooted in common sense I wondered why no one had thought of explaining it her way before.
When I asked Angie why she is sticking with print magazines she said, “I think people interact with print publications differently than they do with online content. Angie’s List is essentially a problem solving service. When people say, “Oh, I need a plumber” they come to us. But our print magazine allows us to interact with members when they are not in need of a plumber.” Angie added that her magazine helps differentiate her company in the crowded online market: “It’s one of the neat differentiators about us. We are not only collecting all of this content but actually packaging it into this kind of “news you can use format.”
In addition, Angie said her print magazine helps drive incremental activity by educating members: “Maybe someone had not thought about buying a geo thermal heating and cooling system, but read an article about it in Angie’s List magazine. That person may not have gone on our website to read the article but read it in our magazine, and it created incremental interest.”
The magazine also serves as a way to introduce new members, said Angie. “Angie’s List members are busy people, and getting the magazine delivered to them can be a very easy, great way to kind of break in.” She continues, “I get tons of e-mails but on Saturday I might sit down to read a magazine at home, where I don’t want to be sitting in front of my computer. Our members are very passionate about our magazine and a lot of consumers leave it sitting out on their coffee table.” And members love the magazine. Angie recalls, “I remember getting a call from a member who had a hospital stay during which her daughter came in, cleaned her house, and threw away her Angie’s List magazine collection. She was so upset she called and asked if we could send her a whole new set.”
For marketers, Angie’s best wisdom came when she described how magazines keep her customers engaged even “when they are not in need of a plumber.” As more marketers raid print budgets to fund digital initiatives, her comment reminds us of print’s unique marketing value, which is not easily duplicated online.
When a print magazine arrives in a home or office it can be read in any physical location, and does not compete for online time with other websites.
But more to Angie’s point, website content is often “purpose driven”—designed for users to choose their own sequence of information as they search for content and solutions to problems. The magazine experience is different, because an editor selects the sequence of content within an area of interest. The magazine read may offer fewer content options, but sometimes it’s really nice to sit back and have someone who really knows the neighborhood be the tour guide.
Magazines extend the impact of digital marketing because they reach users differently--especially when they are NOT searching for products, information, or solutions to problems. Need a book? Go to Amazon.com. The latest political news? Politio.com. Tech news? Mashable.com etc. But what about when you do not need a book, political news, tech news, or a plumber? Maybe you are sitting on your couch just reading a magazine, maybe the one published by Angie’s List.
Down load a copy of our FREE 43 page study “Improving Marketing Effectiveness.”
Are marketers in the business of selling or motivating customers to buy? Both! I wrote "Selling 2.0" as primmer on customer motivation. When it was released, Barnes and Noble stocked it in their sales department while the Borders chain stocked in their marketing department. Here are the top ten lessons from that book: Lesson #1: It is more important to be well trusted than well liked.
In a world of repeat purchases, consolidated buying, inter-dependencies, and partnerships, greater power may have shifted to the buyer but so has greater risk. When risk to the buyer increases, customers make buying from someone they trust their top priority.
Given the limited time and resources you get to spend with any of your customers, how big a priority is trust building? Most sales people jump at the chance to build a personal relationship with a customer and invest considerable time and resources to do so. But trust building opportunities, such as aggressively handling mistakes or missionary selling before buying begins, are often overlooked. It is important to identify trust building moments, strategies, and codes of behavior and to pursue them as your highest priority.Lesson #2 You have to create value not just talk about it
I used to ask myself what I was going to SAY on my next sales call. Today I ask what am I going to DO. Customers are less interested in spending time with salespeople who just add a positive spin and offer to buy lunch over information that customers can download from the Internet themselves. Today a sales call has to be more than presenting information; it needs to be about planning, researching, thinking, brainstorming, idea sharing, knowledge building, value creating, or discovery.
Lesson #3: There are bigger differences between how you and your competition handle customers than between your products.
Your job is to live your product and as result you will see greater differences between your product and your competition than your customers ever will.
But today there are many new ways to work with customers that did not exist before. Customers may be seeing less and less difference between product offerings but are seeing greater differences in how sales people and companies build and maintain relationships and customer interfaces.Lesson #4: You sell to a customer network, not a collection of isolated customers.
Your customers are more connected to each other than ever before. Through chat rooms on the Internet, email, partnerships between members of your customer base, and newsgroups, you sell in a networked world. Assume that if you do something truly outstanding, either positive or negative, all of your customers will hear about it and be influenced. Lesson #5: Information is a commodity, knowledge is power.
The old adage that, “information is power” predates the Internet. Customers can now access more information than ever and make informed decisions without ever talking to a salesperson. What now has value is the knowledge, judgment, experience, and training to help your customer take advantage of the ubiquitous information. Lesson #6: You will sell more as an agent of change than as an agent selling products.
Salespeople have always been an agent of change. The job is to change non-buyers into buyers and buyers into greater or more loyal buyers. As such, the status quo is your enemy. But this idea takes on far greater importance when you are selling in a market where change is fast and constant. In the corner of the world affected by your product you can lead change, draft along with change, or get hurt by change. As a salesperson it is essential to know what trends affect your business and embrace them. Lesson #7: You are your client’s personal brand manager.
The two most important parts of your brand are your brand’s promise and your brand’s deliver on that promise.
For your customer, you are the key to both. Individual products, corporate logos, and letterhead can change every year but the key to winning and growing business over time is to manage the perception of your company and make sure it delivers consistently to your customer. This means managing your company’s brand on a one to one level. Lesson #8: Customer loyalty is the result of better customer strategy not better customer service.
Excellent customer service has never been more important. It has also never been more common. Today, excellent customer service is only your admission to the game. The bigger question is, what do you do when you arrive on the playing field? Salespeople who invest time in creating unique customer experiences, strategically shape their customer relationships, and build multi-level relationships between their organizations have the best chance at customer loyalty. Lesson #9. It is easier to differentiate your product in the future than in the present.
In times of rapid change customers want to know that what you sell them today will stay current and maintain support into the future. The differences in how you and your competition propose to do this five years out can be more varied, interesting, and compelling than the differences between your current product offerings, which are limited by the rigidity of present day reality. Lesson #10. The biggest sales will go to the most aggressive customer motivators, not the most aggressive customer pushers.
What has not changed is that aggressive salespeople still make the most sales. What has changed is how the aggression is channeled. Customers are smarter and just won’t stand for the aggressive “closer” style salesperson of old. But if you use a motivational approach, your customer will view your activities as aggressively working for them. Stop pushing products, start motivating your customer to buy.Download a free chapter from "Selling 2.0" Buy "Selling 2.0" on Amazon
In the sales trade, a salesperson who “shows up and throws up” pushes his agenda at customers with no concern for their needs or pain points. His canned presentation is only about his products and bores customers to tears.
Better salespeople realize that selling is about motivating customers, which rarely happens by just dumping product information on them. These salespeople work to understand the customer’s point of view and to put their product into the context of their customers world. Before talking product they might ask questions to find out...
• What are the problems or pain points unique to the customer?
• How does this customer fit into his or her competitive market?
• Are there technical, regulatory, or financial trends that will affect their needs?
• Which applications or best practices might affect this company's purchasing decisions?
Better salespeople focus on solving customer problems first, product information follows. They collect information and advice helpful to the customer not just with a purchase, but in using the product successfully.
Now, let’s get back to your website. Which of these two approaches describe the content on it? Is your content just about your company and products, or do you also have information helpful to solving customer problems?
Today, with 70% of the customer product evaluation occurring online, before company salespeople are contacted, simply showing your products is not enough. Smart companies are using their websites as the core part of a digital salesforce. The content on a website does more that show product information, it starts to sell the products as well.
There are two kinds of content needed:
First, problem solving content to draw potential customers to the site. This content:
• Helps customers feel like you are committed to their success. Don’t you think this is more meaningful than just telling your customers how committed you are?
• Motivate registration (for a newsletter or webinar etc.) and capture early stage sales leads.
• Helps customers become familiar with your website before they make a purchase. Wouldn’t it be better if they were familiar with your website before they head into their next product purchase?
In a recent blog post, Junta 42 founder Joe Pulizzi shared a great example of this this on the Monster.com website. Pulizzi noted that the needs of Monster's customers, as they look for jobs in the recession, were addressed directly on the site:
"Let's take a look at challenges faced by those people looking for or trying to keep their job:
What jobs will be readily available with the passage of the stimulus bill?
If I'm downsized, what do I need to do now to protect my career?
How much am I worth in a downturn?
How do I protect my job in a tough economy?
Can I still get a raise in a recession?
Those five questions that employees are struggling with are actually the first five articles on the Monster.com site."
Sure, Monster.com provides a job search service, but the content on the site does not hype their service, instead it services the customers.
Second a site should demonstrate the unique value of the products. Today's web savvy buyers use early website visits to narrow down a list of potential buyers to a short list. The content on your website needs to fight for your products to be on that short list.
What content is on your website? Hopefully, a balance of product and company information, combined with content that helps your customers solve problems and understand the unique value your products offer. If the content is just all about your products they may not make to the short list.
As you redesign your website it is important to focus on products but also include information that motivate potential customers to buy them from you and not elsewhere.
Read about our content development services
As a student of marketing and sales I love Presidential elections and I have devised a system that has successfully predicted every presidential contest I can remember. How accurate? My system has never failed, not once.
My theory is that the selling skills of the candidates determine the outcome of the race more than any other factor.
My formula for picking the winner is simple, apolitical, and accurate.
Here it is:
- Forget the polls
- Forget the party platforms
- Forget the issues
- Forget the debates
- Forget the political ads
- Even forget the political parties
If you objectively evaluate the selling skills of the candidates...
the better salesperson always wins the election.
Don't believe me? Let's look at the last 8 contests:
In 2008 Barack Obama won over John McCain. McCain was a solid guy and a war hero, but Obama was the better salesperson who sold the nation on hope and change.
2004 Bush wins over Kerry
This was the election where George "I'm askin' for your vote" Bush beat John "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" Kerry. I worked on the Kerry campaign. He was no salesman.
2000 Bush wins over Gore
Bush had his "common man" appeal, Gore had academic appeal. More common men vote that academics.
1996 Clinton wins over Dole
Clinton, was and still is, one of the greatest salespeople to ever run for public office. Dole was a war hero. No contest.
1992 Clinton wins over George Bush Sr.
Bush Senior was a clear communicator and far from a pushover. But Bill Clinton bested him by communicating on an emotional level as well.
1988 Bush Sr. wins over Dukakis
Michael Dukakis was the guy who calmly quoted government policy when CNN's Bernard Shaw asked how he would react if his wife were brutally raped and murdered. Emotional connection with voters? Zero. Bush Senior won.
1984 Reagan wins over Mondale
Regan, "The Great Communicator" vs. Walter "Mon-Dull." No contest.
1980 Reagan wins over Jimmy Carter
Carter was no match for "The Great Communicator."
1976 Carter wins over Ford
Carter had a very engaging personality. Ford stumbled a lot and began a speech in Iowa by booming the enthusiastic words, "It's GREAT to be in OHIO!!"
I didn't vote for all of the winners but in my objective opinion, the best salesperson won every contest. Think about this as your organization plans its next round of sales calls!
Taking into account the poor sales skills demonstrated by Mr. Romney, and the continued high level of sales skills demonstrated by Mr. Obama, my formula predicts an Obama win.
Conducting a survey is the process of taking a small, representative sample of a larger group to gain a better understanding of the group as a whole. When surveys are conducted on an ongoing basis they can become extremely important. Marketers take note: when done well, a series of ongoing surveys can become an important reference point for the markets they serve.
Here are some examples from different industries:
One of the most powerful brands in financial publishing is the Dow Jones Company, publishers of the Wall Street Journal and creators of the Dow Jones industrial average. In 1896 company co-founder Charles Dow created a process by which he selected 30 stocks he thought represented the larger industrial corporations in the US as whole. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average has come to represent a key metric of the economic health of the United States. The Dow Jones industrial Average, at its heart, is just a survey. But every time the Dow Jones industrial Average is quoted, the Dow Jones Company gets free publicity.
The Nielsen Ratings sample a representative number of American television viewers and projects those numbers to determine who is watching nationwide. The Nielsen Ratings is basically just an ongoing survey, but the scores it generates determine if your favorite TV stays on or is canceled.
Every four years when the US turns to the challenge of electing a president, one Washington consulting company in particular gets a boost of free publicity. This publicity bonanza started in 1958 when Dr. George Gallup started surveying samples of potential voters to project who which politician was ahead in the vote. Today, every time a newscast mentions The Gallup Poll, The Gallup organization's world-wide strategic consulting business gets a boost.
Election time is also when an odd named Connecticut university with only 5,900 students gets national attention every time a newscaster announces a result from the Quinnipiac University Poll.
There are several publishers who create objective information to help consumers better understand the products and services they buy. Want to know which restaurant is best? Read the Zagat restaurant ratings. Consumer products? Read Consumer Reports.
The ability to create information that helps a market better understand itself is a very powerful process.
If you think surveys aren't influential please consider that just these examples they influence the health of our economy, which TV shows get canceled, which products we buy, and the selection our President.
Were the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Gallup Poll, Nielsen Ratings, and Quinnipiac University Poll created just to generate publicity? Probably not. But they do follow a formula smart marketers have used for years: create valuable branded content for a target market and your organization will gain stature and publicity in that market.
Surveys are hidden or source of persuasion and publicity in our economy and conducting them on an ongoing basis can increase their power significantly.
Read about some of our recent surveys and how this can work for your organization.